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View Full Version : Thefts by workers in your home



Jim Terrill
03-14-2010, 5:06 PM
We had a radiant pipe burst a few years ago in our house, destroyed all the wooden floors, fried the alarm system, over 40K in damage. We gave a key to the general contractor so he could let people in to do the repairs, they did a good job but we later discovered that they emptied all of the liquor bottles down to maybe 1/2" remaining in them and took the remaining narcotics from a surgery of mine, taking approximately 80 pills and leaving a half dozen. Unfortunately because of the number of people that were working on the house we could never pin it on anyone and had to just deal with the theft.

Over my spring break I went to go build my wood shop and the framing nail gun that was there 6 months ago is gone now, after we had someone in to clean the furnace and an electrician to fix a circuit (which wasn't working because he had wired it in a crackpot manner). I feel like our house has been violated, if these are the things that we have had taken, what else has disappeared that we haven't noticed? We have to get some work done on the heating system and had to move all the tools that are in the half-finished woodshop into a locked room, but where does it stop. We have taken some measures such as using combination entry locks so that we can create a code and then deactivate it once they are done rather than handing keys out, but is it necessary to lock every door whenever we have any work done?

Luckily I have a low deductible student insurance and can make a claim on the nail gun since it was my property and get back some money to buy a new one, but it just rubs me the wrong way. Has anyone else had issues with things disappearing after they had work done on their house?

Mitchell Andrus
03-14-2010, 5:11 PM
Almost all of the small musical instruments were taken (the cases were left) when my son's school underwent some renovations over a summer a while back. Some of the instruments were student's. They were caught 'cause they posted them on ebay... not the smartest thing to do, Huh?

The security cameras were off for the summer.
.

Glenn Vaughn
03-14-2010, 5:15 PM
We had the roof replaced on our previous house. One of the laborers hired by the contractor stole my Makita 3 1/2" planer. There was no way to prove who took it - until the contractor told me he saw it in a local pawn shop. I had used it to try and strip paint off of 100 year old siding (didn't work). The case still had the paint chips from the siding in it. I was also lucky that I had not thrown the box away so still had the serial number.

Reported to the police - they investigated then arrested the worker - he did 90 days in jail.

Dave Johnson29
03-14-2010, 7:05 PM
Back in 2003 I was living in the City. The next door neighbor had contractors come in and do work on the house.

We had a lot of stuff growing in the veg garden and the morning after the last day the contractors where there, we came out to a stripped garden. Footprints everywhere.

Niece in San Diego had an avocado tree in the front yard. They were waiting for the lower ones to ripen but came out one morning to the bottom 6 feet stripped.

Now I am out in the country I do all my own work but a neighbor about 2 miles away has to rely on local tradesmen. In the past 12 months she has had about 6 handy-men types. In that time has lost, 6 gas cans (some full), a gas-powered water pump, a 6500W generator, a portable air conditioner and a bunch of hand tools.

A bunch of meds went missing from her bathroom after a plumber call out.

Never able to catch any of them. It's the way the world is these days.

Eddie Watkins
03-14-2010, 7:07 PM
We had work electrical work done several years ago and the helper came back a week or so later and stole a TV, some jewelry, phones, etc. I knew the owner of the company and called to let him know. The guy had took the stuff towork and was selling it. The police arrested him but plea bargained with him and he walked for turning some other people in. I rarely hire anybody to do work for me anymore and nobody gets a key. If I can't be there, the work waits.

Jim Terrill
03-14-2010, 7:25 PM
Well the latest electrician that we had in (and the most likely suspect as he was working directly above the tool storage shelves) worked when my mother was there, but she has no clue what our tools look like. He could have walked by with a bench grinder and she would have been clueless. The red flag is he told her he had to finish the job the next day and that she didn't need to be there for him to finish the job.... we're calling him and mentioning that the tool went missing, if that doesn't get anywhere he may end up taking to the police when a police report is filed. Just overall sad, the gun is from when I worked in the construction industry and I worked with some very honest and reputable guys, it's sad that apparently this problem is across the whole industry. Then again we had some gang boxes in a house we were working on that "moved" overnight, so even contractors are not immune. No one wants to work for an honest buck these days it seems.

Marty Paulus
03-14-2010, 8:33 PM
With the economy in the tank around here it seems everyone with a hammer and pick up truck is now a handy man, painter, etc. Almost nobody is licensed or bonded. I have not had to hire anyone to do any work but if I did they would be watched very close. Bad times spawn thieves. Anything to make a buck by hook or by crook.

Paul Atkins
03-14-2010, 8:48 PM
My wife and installed some Roman shades in a house and got a call from the interior decorator asking if we had stolen the cordless drill the owner had in the room. We never saw the thing and would not steal the dust in the corner. Kinda set the whole job in a funk. Not quite the same but from another view.

JohnT Fitzgerald
03-14-2010, 8:52 PM
Yikes. all these stories just suck.

when we moved into our house (new construction), we changed ALL the locks. they were standard locks to which all the contractors subs had keys. When we had the guy back to knock off some items on the punch list, he was like "no worries, I have a key". When I told him that he didn't, he was astonished and said "Why did you do that?" Gee, why do you think?

Jim Rimmer
03-14-2010, 9:17 PM
Either my wife or I are always around when there are contractors in the house and it has gotten to the point that I will take off work because I don't want her there alone with them. My woodshop is in the 3rd stall of our 3 car garage. I never let them see in there or borrow tools. When the neighborhood yard crews are around I close the garage doors.

Karl Card
03-15-2010, 4:17 AM
We had work electrical work done several years ago and the helper came back a week or so later and stole a TV, some jewelry, phones, etc. I knew the owner of the company and called to let him know. The guy had took the stuff towork and was selling it. The police arrested him but plea bargained with him and he walked for turning some other people in. I rarely hire anybody to do work for me anymore and nobody gets a key. If I can't be there, the work waits.


You said it right htere.... if i cant be there the work waits... I know it is an inconvience for people who are professionals and the such but I hardly trust anybody in a situation like that..

Curt Harms
03-15-2010, 7:17 AM
unless you have locks on all bank records, tax records etc. it'd be easy enough to copy down the info and nobody would be any the wiser. After all, there's nothing missing. I had a job in the '90s flying government contractors. We got manifests for each trip with names & social security #'s. They obviously lived in the area. If I were so inclined (I wasn't) I could have had names, addresses & S.S. #'s. All that was missing was birth date. I'm sure there were ways to get that as well.

Rick Prosser
03-15-2010, 9:49 AM
I have had contractors working on numerous occasions without me being there (after the initial visit) without any issues. Contractors were always someone I knew, or recommended by someone I trusted. Otherwise, I would not be comfortable leaving them alone in the house.
The one thing that I do worry about - the "helpers" may not be as trust worthy as the head contractor that I deal with, but so far - so good.
Maybe I have been lucky.

Mike Wilkins
03-15-2010, 10:24 AM
These days I would be more worried about less than honest people taking information from my home. About 4 years ago there were a series of break-ins in the area in which no large items were taken, such as TV's or stereo equipment. They were taking information such as check books, credit card and bank statements to use for identity theft purposes. Local sheriff finally caught the goons, since they were working their way toward my house.
My feelings are if I don't know you, I don't trust you. Anyone that comes into my home is given an escort by me. Sounds kind of paranoid, but these days you can't be too careful.

Joel Earl
03-15-2010, 10:57 AM
These days I would be more worried about less than honest people taking information from my home. .

DITTO

"Things" can be replaced but your name, reputation, credit takes a very long time to ever get replaced or rather returned to status quo.

I even now fret about the trash hauler and stuff thats tossed out- I shread but things get tossed anyway. Maybe I'm slightly paranoid....I only had my identity pilfered and used twice now. 6 years apart:mad: By at least 27 "known" individuals who been either caught or they looking for them.

Tools disappearing???? While it has occured a couple of times to us it is a small deal compared to this identity and info thing.

Mark Lincoln
03-15-2010, 11:34 AM
Yeah this is a problem for both sides. Even a good contractor can have a bad seed in his crew that he has to weed out, and of course there are just out and out theives in the contracting world.

This is why I am very happy to have a interior steel door to my shop and to my upstairs with deadbolts. Every night they get locked. If I have to leave the house and give someone else a key, both these doors will be locked. They can be smashed through, but they prevent the opportunity pilferer from going through my more valuable sections of the house.

The door at the top of the stairs to the sleeping quarters also gives my family comfort when they sleep. A home invader would have to bust through a steel door with locking hinges, 4" screws into a double studded corner. By then, I will be wide awake and well armed.

It may seem silly or crazy to have steel doors with deadbolts inside the house but it has been great. Especially since I like the windows open 4 months a year.

Pat Germain
03-15-2010, 11:41 AM
Wow. This situation completely blows major monkey chunks. One would think that stealing from a customer would be a bad, business-killing idea. But I suppose people think only short-term these days.

I am pleasantly surprised to hear at least some of these thieves are being prosecuted. Typically, unless someone is brandishing a firearm, the police have bigger fish to fry.

Bob Borzelleri
03-15-2010, 12:37 PM
My wife and I have an ongoing conversation that starts with her wishing that we would hire a housekeeper to come in a couple of times a month and that ends with me reminding her of the two different times we did just that and had things stolen (and these were folks from a bonded agency, no less).

Video cameras and alarm systems are apparently becoming necessities. :(

paul cottingham
03-15-2010, 12:58 PM
Just a note....last year we had a flood, and a local company came to do the insurance work. They were rough looking, to be sure. Not only did nothing disappear, but they took off their shoes, respected my cats, were incredibly nice to my 3 year old autistic daughter, and cleaned up after themselves. Hell, I'd have any of them over for a BBQ.

Of course, it may help that I'm 6'2" and 260 lbs.;)

I'm just sayin'

Paul Brinkmeyer
03-15-2010, 1:11 PM
I read news clip once about a ring that broke into cars at malls and only took portable GPS's and sometimes the garage door opener.

All they had to do was use the GPS to go to the owners "Home" programed into the GPS unit and then help themselves very fast while the owners were still at the mall and contacting the police about the break in.

Myk Rian
03-15-2010, 1:25 PM
I read news clip once about a ring that broke into cars at malls and only took portable GPS's and sometimes the garage door opener.

All they had to do was use the GPS to go to the owners "Home" programed into the GPS unit and then help themselves very fast while the owners were still at the mall and contacting the police about the break in.
That's why I programmed my Garmin with a password and secret area. It won't turn on without the PW or taking it to the secret area. That area is NOT my house.

Belinda Williamson
03-15-2010, 3:22 PM
There's only one guy I would trust in my home. He's a good friend and does great work. On a little different note though, I live in a condo. In the past the property manager had access for emergencies and pest control days. Under one management company there were no problems. New management company comes in and I start hearing of a few minor incidents around the community. An inconsequential item was stolen from my condo, and I discovered that some of my dresser drawers had been searched. I asked for proof that a criminal background check had been done on the community maintenance guy, and the folks providing pest control. I got the run around for a few months and then found out that the maintenance guy had served time, but not for what. I subsequently found out that he had run a meth lab. The management company didn't bother to run a background check when he was hired. In my opinion that shows a great deal of irresponsibility on the management company's part. I've changed my locks but now received notification that if I don't provide a key for the new lock I will be fined $200.

I've just about decided you can't trust anyone.

Pat Germain
03-15-2010, 5:16 PM
That's why I programmed my Garmin with a password and secret area. It won't turn on without the PW or taking it to the secret area. That area is NOT my house.

Seems to me if I'm willing to break into a car, I can simply open the glove box, pull out the vehicle registration and get the owner's address.

Myk Rian
03-15-2010, 6:11 PM
Seems to me if I'm willing to break into a car, I can simply open the glove box, pull out the vehicle registration and get the owner's address.
That is assuming it's in the car.

Jason Roehl
03-15-2010, 6:22 PM
Seems to me if I'm willing to break into a car, I can simply open the glove box, pull out the vehicle registration and get the owner's address.

The GPS is a bonus, sellable item, I would suppose.


That is assuming it's in the car.

In Indiana, you're required to have your registration in the vehicle. If you get pulled over without it, your vehicle can be towed on the spot.

Sticky-fingered contractors really tick me off. I've had tools stolen out of my garage before, which, of course, really stunk. But, I hate it when stuff walks off a jobsite. It stinks when a tool you need today disappeared the night before, not only costing you the price of the tool, but the lost time until you can get a new one. Plus, those few cretins who think they're entitled to five-fingered discounts cause clients to look on the rest of us with a glaring, skeptical eye. Thankfully, most folks in this area are fairly trusting, so it does tend to make most jobs easier logistically.

Glenn Vaughn
03-15-2010, 7:40 PM
I read news clip once about a ring that broke into cars at malls and only took portable GPS's and sometimes the garage door opener.

All they had to do was use the GPS to go to the owners "Home" programed into the GPS unit and then help themselves very fast while the owners were still at the mall and contacting the police about the break in.

I always take the GPSwith me when I leave the car. The garage door opener is my high-beams - they would need the car to open the garage door (and know how to do it).

Dave Johnson29
03-15-2010, 8:38 PM
I've changed my locks but now received notification that if I don't provide a key for the new lock I will be fined $200.


Hate to say it Belinda, but I am amazed that people pay several hundred thousand dollars for a place to live in, then pay to form a group of neighbors to tell them what they can and can't do with their own property.

How did they find out you had new locks? That might be a worry if you didn't tell them.

Mike Henderson
03-15-2010, 9:24 PM
Hate to say it Belinda, but I am amazed that people pay several hundred thousand dollars for a place to live in, then pay to form a group of neighbors to tell them what they can and can't do with their own property.
It actually works a bit different than that. There are a set of Covenants, Codes, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) that are in place BEFORE you buy the house, and you are expected to read and understand them before you buy the house.

People buy property BECAUSE of the CC&Rs, and because of the belief that by everyone adhering to the CC&Rs, their property value will be protected, especially in subdivisions when the homes are close to each other.

For example, if your neighbor is parking a semitrailer tractor in front of their house, it's going to make it more difficult for you to sell your house.

If you don't like the CC&Rs (for example, if you have a recreational vehicle you want to park in front of your house) you should not buy in that subdivision. You should go buy somewhere there are no or different restrictions.

I've lived in both deed restricted subdivisions and in non-deed restricted subdivisions. I'll take the deed restricted subdivisions any day. There's a lot less problems.

Mike

[The problems in a deed restricted community come from people who think the CC&Rs don't apply to them - just to everyone else.]

Dave Lehnert
03-15-2010, 11:12 PM
I like to have new garage doors and windows installed in my workshop but don't for this very reason.

Jim Terrill
03-15-2010, 11:21 PM
Mike, we have a number of restrictions on our deed, some are to preserve value and protect the lake, some are just comical. Some of the more interesting ones: the main structure on the property must cost at least 8K and have internal plumbing. The funniest one is that we are not allowed to operate a commercial seaplane base from the property. Apparently the guy who owned the whole parcel back in the days before it was subdivided hated the things. We happen to have a seaplane wind vane up on top of our garage as a nod to the deed. Makes a good story.

Mike Henderson
03-15-2010, 11:25 PM
Mike, we have a number of restrictions on our deed, some are to preserve value and protect the lake, some are just comical. Some of the more interesting ones: the main structure on the property must cost at least 8K and have internal plumbing. The funniest one is that we are not allowed to operate a commercial seaplane base from the property. Apparently the guy who owned the whole parcel back in the days before it was subdivided hated the things. We happen to have a seaplane wind vane up on top of our garage as a nod to the deed. Makes a good story.
Yep, sometimes the restrictions can be pretty strange. That's why it's important to read and understand them before you decide to buy or not buy, because you will be bound by them after you buy.

Mike

Jay Jolliffe
03-16-2010, 2:27 AM
I worked with someone once who said stealing on the job was so bad that he had a tool stolen that he was using when he went to his truck to get another to work with. He was working on a high rise someplace.

Belinda Williamson
03-16-2010, 7:19 AM
Hate to say it Belinda, but I am amazed that people pay several hundred thousand dollars for a place to live in, then pay to form a group of neighbors to tell them what they can and can't do with their own property.

How did they find out you had new locks? That might be a worry if you didn't tell them.

Dave, my situation was a little bit different than the one Mike outlined. The condos were originally high end apartments that were converted to condos. I had the option to buy, or move. I'm third floor, overlooking the pool, river view, dock on the river. When the condos were apartments the property owner at that time let me install granite countertops and do a lot of other upgrades. I paid the same price as all the other folks who bought, but I had a better unit. Figured I could always sell if and when I wanted to get out. Long story for another day . . . can't sell the condo.

They found out I had new locks when they came for pest control. I have the option to provide a key, or provide proof that I have a private contract for pest control. Pest control is included in my HOA fees, or I can pay a pretty hefty amount to have someone else come in and spray.

Rod Sheridan
03-16-2010, 8:34 AM
It actually works a bit different than that. There are a set of Covenants, Codes, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) that are in place BEFORE you buy the house, and you are expected to read and understand them before you buy the house.

People buy property BECAUSE of the CC&Rs, and because of the belief that by everyone adhering to the CC&Rs, their property value will be protected, especially in subdivisions when the homes are close to each other.

For example, if your neighbor is parking a semitrailer tractor in front of their house, it's going to make it more difficult for you to sell your house.

If you don't like the CC&Rs (for example, if you have a recreational vehicle you want to park in front of your house) you should not buy in that subdivision. You should go buy somewhere there are no or different restrictions.

I've lived in both deed restricted subdivisions and in non-deed restricted subdivisions. I'll take the deed restricted subdivisions any day. There's a lot less problems.

Mike

[The problems in a deed restricted community come from people who think the CC&Rs don't apply to them - just to everyone else.]

I agree Mike, I live in a townhouse complex governed by a set of bylaws.

It's nice to have everyone on the same page, that way my next door neighbour doesn't have the ability to run a fix it shop in his driveway.

Regards, Rod.

Rod Sheridan
03-16-2010, 8:41 AM
A good friend had his radial arm saw stored in a closet in his church, while he was making sets for a church play.

You guessed it, it was stolen from the church...........Regards, Rod.

glenn bradley
03-16-2010, 9:02 AM
The hard times have put many honest folks on the squeeze and I truly feel for them but; if they're not licensed and bonded, I don't use them. I don't know that this really helps in the event of a theft but I feel I at least have some recourse other than chasing the individual.

Dave Johnson29
03-16-2010, 10:42 AM
The condos were originally high end apartments that were converted to condos.

Sorry Belinda, I was a bit grumpy yesterday. :eek::)
..it happens. ;)

I have only lived in a condo once and that was enough to convince me that Home Owner Associations are to be avoided at all costs.

Don't get me started on the HOA parking lot fiasco. :rolleyes:

Jim Rimmer
03-16-2010, 1:36 PM
It may seem silly or crazy to have steel doors with deadbolts inside the house but it has been great. Especially since I like the windows open 4 months a year.
In the mid 90's I had a custom home built and did the same thing. The bedrooms were in a wing entered through a hallway door. It was steel and deabolted. Floodlights on all outside corners with the switch in the master bedroom. I traveled a lot then and it allowed my wife to sleep better when I was gone. I told her if she heard someone in the rest of the house, let them have what they could carry. If they tried to come in where she was they weren't coming to steal the bath towels, so shoot first and ask what they want later.